New York City Climate Justice Agenda

2020 NYC Climate Justice Agenda

A Critical Decade for Climate, Health, and Equity

On Tuesday, April 21st, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance released their latest report, NYC Climate Justice Agenda 2020: A Critical Decade for Climate, Health, and Equity which outlines urgent recommended strategies to enact a Just Transition, including specific timelines and concrete financial and legislative commitments to create healthy and resilient neighborhoods; tackle emissions in an equitable way; support climate adaptation for frontline communities; and generate good, green jobs in the process. The report focuses on three main themes aimed at achieving an intersectional set of environmental and climate justice goals: (1) Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Localized Emissions, (2) Advance a Just Transition Towards an Inclusive, Regenerative Economy and (3) Cultivate Healthy and Resilient Communities.

Link to press release here.

Download the 2020 NYC Climate Justice Agenda here.

The NYC Climate Justice Agenda is a research and advocacy campaign to address the need for comprehensive community-based approaches to climate action. Informed by the experiences of our member organizations, NYC-EJA monitors government progress towards meaningfully and equitably addressing climate change, and provides strategic recommendations to dismantle historic environmental burdens for frontline communities in New York City.

Grassroots Action for Green Infrastructure Equity (GAGE)

Green Infrastructure is a key climate adaptation strategy that can increase community resilience to climate change. Our vision of nature-based solutions requires a commitment to equity and justice. NYC-EJA engages in multifaceted advocacy and research strategies to increase green infrastructure in low-income communities of color to mitigate historic environmental burdens, protect against growing climate vulnerabilities, and maximize co-benefits of GI including addressing air quality, extreme heat, stormwater, and coastal protection. Additionally, our Just Nature NYC Partnership advocates for more nature-based solutions, especially trees and the urban forest across New York City, to support climate justice and equity. We believe that these investments must be targeted strategically in frontline neighborhoods to help improve wellbeing and resilience, especially in the most heat-vulnerable communities. To learn more visit our GAGE Blog.

COVID-19 and Environmental Justice

The negative health outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic closely mirror the racial and socioeconomic disparities that environmental justice communities have faced for decades. Similarly, to climate change, COVID-19 is a threat multiplier. When the two crises intersect, the effects of poor air quality, extreme heat, and severe storms on environmental justice communities will be disastrous.

Download the COVID-19 and Environmental Justice Factsheet here.

Heat Campaign

NYC-EJA has long championed for NYC to do more to address the dangers of extreme heat caused by a changing climate for low-income communities of color. According to the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index—a metric that identifies neighborhoods with a higher risk for heat-related deaths—the twelve most heat vulnerable communities are predominantly composed of low-income residents of color. NYC-EJA advocates for extreme heat preparedness, to ensure that communities have the knowledge and the resources they need to prepare for extreme heat events.

South Bronx Community Resiliency Agenda

With the support of the Kresge Foundation’s Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative, a national competitive process, NYC-EJA has partnered with its member organization THE POINT CDC to engage local communities in creating a comprehensive climate resiliency agenda that will strengthen both the physical and social resiliency of the South Bronx Significant Maritime and Industrial Area (SMIA). The South Bronx Community Resiliency Agenda (SBCRA) will engage local communities in creating a comprehensive climate resiliency agenda that will strengthen both the physical and social resiliency of the South Bronx Significant Maritime and Industrial Area (SMIA). This project flows, in large part, from the cutting edge Hunts Point Lifelines plan which was awarded funding through the HUD-sponsored Rebuild by Design competition. SBCRA provides a mechanism for sustained community engagement in support of implementing Lifelines and coordinated resiliency plans for the South Bronx SMIA communities. SBCRA envisions connecting greenways along our waterfront neighborhoods; levees to protect both the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center and residential neighborhoods from flooding; clean and renewable energy sources; jobs and business opportunities generated as a result of new investments; and community preparedness for future climate events.

Sandy Regional Assembly

On January 26, 2013, nearly 200 participants representing over 40 community, environmental justice, labor and civic groups from across New York City, New Jersey and Long Island – from the neighborhoods most impacted by Superstorm Sandy, and most vulnerable to future storm surges – convened the Sandy Regional Assembly to strategize how government officials should implement a Sandy rebuilding program. In April 2013, these groups presented their Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda – the first regional grassroots Sandy rebuilding and resiliency plan.  The Recovery Agenda was a mix of suggested capital projects and policy recommendations.



  • Thanks to NYC-EJA’s advocacy, the City passed two laws in July 2020 on extreme heat, Local Laws 84 and 85 . The first law requires the NYC Department of Health to annually report on neighborhood heat vulnerability and the number of heat-related deaths, as well as an estimation of heat-exacerbated deaths. The second law requires the NYC Office of Emergency Management to develop and submit an annual comprehensive NYC cooling and communication plan.

  • The Just Nature NYC partnership released “How a Healthy and Equitable Urban Forest Can Help Communities Thrive” highlighting why the urban forest is an environmental justice issue.

  • In anticipation of the OneNYC update, NYC-EJA released the NYC Climate Justice Agendato asses the extent to which the Mayor’s sustainability and resiliency blueprints address environmental and climate justice issues, and the type of progress achieved to date. The Agenda also highlights community-based initiatives and recommendations to address these issues.

  • The City committed to addressing the vulnerability of industrial facilities to climate change impacts through the Open Industrial Uses and Resilient Industry studies. These studies will help assess potential hazardous exposures from industrial sites in the event of severe weather, and create a detailed inventory of best management practices for pollution prevention and climate adaptation.

  • Mayor Bloomberg’s SIRR report and the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding task Force’s report included several Sandy Regional Assembly priorities, and highlighted the problem of environmental justice and industrial waterfront vulnerability to storm surges.

  • The Hunts Point Lifelines Proposal, submitted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and OLIN and supported by THE POINT CDC, received a combined $45 million from US-HUD’s Rebuild by Design Competition and the City of New York. NYC-EJA facilitated discussions leading to the adoption of issues & opportunities prioritized in the Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda for Hunts Point.

POLITICO: Air Quality Report (02/22/2021)
Scientific American: Policy Can Clash with Affordable Housing (07/24/2020)
Politico: A cross-country Covid trip (07/17/2020)
POLITICO: Capacity Market Concerns (07/13/2020)
Grist: Doing New York justice (06/25/2020)
Green Biz: The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 (06/22/2020)
WNYC: A Just and Resilient Climate (09/19/2019)
The River Newsroom: The End of Fossil Fuels in New York? (07/06/2019)
Capital Public Radio News: New York’s Aggressive Battle Against Climate Change (06/21/2019)
Politico NY: Carbon offset divide (05/20/2019)
Grist: Heat Check (07/11/2018)
Crain's NY: Cuomo must invest in climate justice (07/10/2018)
Queen Gazette: Queens College Business Breakfast (03/28/2018)
The Indypendent: Coastal Cities on the Edge (11/22/2017)
WNYC, The Brian Lehrer Show: A New York City Earth Day Check-In (07/22/2016)
Manhattan Times: Ground Control (04/20/2016)
Uptown Radio: City Struggling With Rising Sea Levels (03/04/2016)
Politico New York: Progressive caucus pushes two energy policies (12/14/2015)
CUNY TV: Still Struggling (11/11/2015)
WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM: Sandy Regional Assembly Issues Report (07/25/2013)
The New York World: Rebuilding from the ground up (04/02/2013)

Eddie Bautista presenting on Labor, Community, & the Climate Crisis

New York City Panel on Climate Change Report, Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response (Chapter 5, Public Health Impacts and Resiliency): This New York City Panel on Climate Change report references NYC-EJA’s Waterfront Justice Project research on potential hazardous exposures in/around the Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs) in the event of severe weather.

Sandy Regional Assembly, Recovery Agenda: Recovery from the ground up: Strategies for community-based resiliency in New York and New Jersey.

Sandy Regional Assembly, SIRR Analysis & Recommendations to the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force: An assessment of the Mayors’ Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) Plan, and recommendations for the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

Come back soon…